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If a customer disputed a charge, the telephone company would usually “forgive” the charge but block the caller from calling any other chat lines.
By 2007 only Verizon, Sprint and AT&T remained in the chat line business in the U. By 2007 Verizon and MCI had merged and only a few chat line companies remained active as a result.
(This attitude still survives among some providers.) When public (mostly female) pressure forced the phone companies to stop providing this service to sex workers, a transition was made to a manual method: pre-paid blocks of time, 10, 30, 60 minutes, whatever the customer would pay for.
Nevertheless, phone sex should not be confused with prostitution wherein money is exchanged for real life sexual services or physical interaction.
The editor of High Society magazine, Gloria Leonard, is credited with being one of the first people to use "976 numbers", then "900 numbers" for promotional purposes and soon as a revenue stream in the adult industry.
Verizon provided billing services to calls made in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.
AT&T and MCI offered nationwide collection services, with a cap of per call.